We only say no to offers

My husband was looking for a new job recently and as he was looking at job postings and getting interviews, he would keep rejecting all kinds of great jobs, telling me he didn’t want to apply for a job or accept an invitation to interview for all kinds of reasons. One job was too far away and one wasn’t exactly what he wanted (although it was about 80% what he wanted). Another required travel, which he didn’t want to do, and yet a different one was with a start-up company and he wanted to work at a more established company.

I thought all of these were valid concerns but I told him something that I think all job seekers should take to heart:

We only say no to offers.

I was fine with him turning down any job offer that came his way if it wasn’t the right fit for him. I would never want him or anyone to accept a job that they would not like. It’s your life and the decision to accept a job is a very important one.

But what I am saying is that while you can and should turn down a job offer you don’t want, do not decline to apply for a job in the first instance.

As my husband did, in your job search, you may come across a job posting you’re qualified for but that you don’t like for some reason. That shouldn’t stop you from applying because you don’t have the full picture about a job opportunity until you have gone through the entire interview process, gathered all of the information, and given the opportunity a full hearing. A job posting might not excite you but once you interview, you may find that you really love the people you would be working with and the company culture is a great fit. But you’ll never know if you just don’t apply.

As I told my husband, if a job offer was a great fit but too far away, for example, he should apply anyway. He doesn’t have all of the information. He could very well learn during the interview process that employees all work from home two days a week, which would make a long commute three days a week palatable.

And bear in mind that job postings are hard to write. Employers do not always communicate the full scope of the job as effectively as they would like in a job posting; they don’t always know exactly what the job will consist of at the beginning and often refine that understanding while interviewing candidates, and it isn’t possible to convey some really important things in job postings anyway.

Here is a list of some aspects of a job that it is impossible to fully communicate in a job posting and yet have a huge impact on how much you enjoy that job:

-What the people you’re working with are like

-The culture and general vibe of the organization

-The kind of manager your potential supervisor is (hands-off, allows you to work independently, wants to meet with you daily to assess work progress, micromanages, etc.)

I also find that when applying for jobs, excitement and interest level almost always increase when you get an interview or an offer. You will likely find that you feel much differently about a job when you have an offer than you did when you were trying to decide whether you should apply.

I think it is a good idea to especially take this advice to heart when it comes to employers interviewing on campus at Notre Dame. When employers interview on campus, they are showing that they are excited about the prospect of hiring NDLS students, in particular. I love South Bend but it isn’t exactly the most accessible place in the world, so if someone is making the trip to campus, you can know that they are eager and excited to meet you. Why not spend half an hour of your time meeting them and learning more about a potential job opportunity? The worst that can happen is you learn more about an organization and make a connection with someone who loves Notre Dame.

Think about being less picky when it comes to the first step in your job search: deciding whether to apply for a particular job.

I am not suggesting that you apply to be a shoe salesman, but I am saying that if the job is within the same solar system as what you’re looking for, don’t pass it over based solely on how it looks on paper. Some of the best opportunities in life come from unexpected sources and the impulse that “I might as well give it a shot.”

Be as picky as you want when you get an offer. I am the last person in the world who will ever tell you to accept a job offer you don’t want. But if a good opportunity comes up that you’re qualified for, throw your hat in the ring, meet people working for that organization, and get all of the information before deciding if it is the right fit for you.

As job seekers, we should all repeat the mantra:

We only say no to offers.

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